Born on April the 15th 1452 in the Republic of Florence, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was a Renaissance painter, sculptor, inventor, architect, engineer, anatomist, mathematician and musician, amongst other talents.
Only a small number of Leonardo's paintings have come down to us, yet these few are complemented by his notebooks which contain sketches and drawings, scientific diagrams and his notes on the nature of painting. His illustration of the human proportions, Vitruvian Man is recognised around the world - as are his paintings The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.
Leonardo studied art between the ages of 14 and 24, before his career began. He received his first commissions in 1478, before he moved to Milan, where he spent the next 17 years, broken by a brief stay in Hungary.
In 1499 war with France began and Leonardo fled Milan for Venice, where he was employed as a military architect and engineer, tasked with finding ways to defend the city from any naval attacks.
From 1513 -1516 Leonardo dwelt in the Vatican City where he was commissioned by the French King Francis I to make a technological marvel of its time - a mechanical lion which would walk and open its chest, revealing a cluster of lilies. In 1516 Leonardo entered Francis' service and went to live in the manor house Clos Lucén in the Loire Valley. Here he spent the remainder of his life and died on May the 2nd 1519. He was 67 years old.